Saturday, April 4, 2009

2009 Darjeeling First Day, First Flush, Hand Sorted Goomtee Estate White Tea: A Grape (Great) Tea

This tea was a gift by kind Mr. Rowatt, the manager of Goomtee Tea Estate just outside Kurseong. It was the same tea that one had sampled on March 3rd, a parting gift.

One removes the staples from this tightly wrapped sample. The nose wastes no time in diving into the package and taking deep huffs of tea scented air. The breaths smell of strong rubber with light back muskel evergreen forest notes over a fine flowery scent. The mini multi-green tips have weathered the long journey quite well. Upon closer inspection many are coated in a fine white hair, no leaf is the same as its neighbour. The resulting collage is a pleasure for the eyes.

After admiring these leaves for way too long, one scoops two full cha chiks and dumps them into a large buncheong pot. Eighty Degree water is added then removed from the leaves after about thirty seconds. Light grape notes in extraordinarily fresh, juicy soup is revealed with a flowery after taste. There is a full throatiness with pleasing astringency that stays in the mouth for a while.

The next infusion is done at about eighty-five degrees and is left on the leaves for about thirty-five seconds. The result is that undeniable, Darjeeling white, “Did I just bite into a concord grape?” taste. This particular infusion actually evolves much like it would if consuming an actual grape. It opens juicy like when just piercing the skin of the grape, puncturing its juicy center. Then the flavour hits and is followed by a dry mouthfeel and astringency that comes as the tannins in the peel are chewed. The grape flavour in this infusion is especially pronounced.

The next infusion is for forty seconds at just over eighty-five degrees and brings grape but more flowers than previous infusions. The flowery taste is light daisy and reminds one of the oncoming spring.

The infusions continue with water temperatures and steeping times that follow a similar increasing progression. The flavours become less pronounced with the light flower notes dropping off faster than grape. The mouthfeel stays relatively stable if not becoming more dry. This tea has great stamina compared to other Darjeeling whites that one has tangled with.
The cha qi is also surprisingly warm for a white tea. Although it still demonstrates the coolness that characterizes whites, it seems warmer than most.

Note: One decided to include brewing perimeters on this post, something that one usually tries to deliberately avoid. One decided to add them after experimenting with this tea with near boiling water in a yixing pot for longer steeping times. One tried a similar Darjeeling brewed like this before in Korea and the result was surprising. It brought out the flowery edge of the tea. When one brewed it in this manner it was definitely more flowery but the over-the-top astringency and shortened stamina of the full flavours of this tea put one off in brewing the remainder of the sample like this. Perhaps one must use less dry leaf.


Enjoy the new grass, the new 2009 teas, and all the other joys of spring.


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